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Scannell Has Plan to Grow BBC America

3/28/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

New York — Herb Scannell, overseer of BBC
America and other BBC properties in the U.S., said
the network is ready to spend more to increase ratings,
diversify its program mix and generally capitalize
on a moment in which “British culture is ‘it
culture.’ ”

“I feel we’re
in a good place,”
Scannel l, the
former MTV
Networks executive
named
BBC Worldwide
America president
last June,
told Multichannel
News
. “We
have a good
base of an audience
… There
is an opportunity
if we move
the needle, so to
speak.”

To break
out of its ratings neighborhood
— a
primetime average
of 0.1 or
161,000 viewers
in 2010, near Style Network and Military Channel,
according to Nielsen — Scannell said, “In the
next five years we are going to triple our program
budgets.”

The channel will look to add four to six unscripted
shows per year. “And then, beginning next summer
and then subsequent years, we’ll do a full-out drama,
one to two every year,” Scannell said.

Coming up, the channel will be exclusive U.S.
provider of the BBC One feed of the British royal
wedding.

Another priority is growing the BBC World News
channel. It’s carried by Cablevision Systems, Cox
Communication and Verizon Communications’ FiOS
TV, and Scannell said his team will be “aggressively”
pitching it to more cable operators.

“We’re going to be a good deal for a cable operator,”
Scannell said. “We’re a world news service. Our price
is going to be a lot different than some of the incumbent
news networks.”

September